In this episode I had the pleasure of interviewing UFC TUF 18 First ever female champion Julianna Pena.
She first got her start in mixed martial arts when her sister invited her to a cardio kickboxing class. She threw a punch and the instructor asked her “who taught you how to punch” and she responded “ you just did.” She was a natural from the get go.
When she was younger she wanted to be a rapper a comedian and a boxer. So she was living her destiny! Although mixed martial arts has a lot more disciplines then just boxing.
She was the youngest of four and grew up strong having to stand up for herself.
Julianna was given the opportunity to compete in the first ever TUF season that allowed women (season 18). Her coach bought her a ticket and she tried out and secured her spot. The environment of living in the house while filming the show was unlike any other challenge she had faced so far in career. She was sleeping next to her opponents every single day while they had no access to TV, phones, internet, or the outside world for that matter. If you wanna talk about a mindset challenge, this was the ultimate. She lived, breathed, and slept next to the competition.
Julie ended up winning the entire show. Beating out all the other competitors while maintaining her mental toughness, in addition to her unbeatable mixed martial arts skills. Peña says -the sport of MMA is a combination of mental and physical strength combined.
When asked how she kept her mindset strong throughout hard time she explained how her sister would tell her to go into the bathroom, look into the mirror, and tell herself that “ She is the fucking King.” That’s exactly what she did.
When asked if she has ever wanted to quit her response was- the only time that thought had crossed her mind was when she suffered two separate knee injuries, or the times she dislocated both her elbows, or when she was ran over on the street by a random car. She overcame those physical hurdles and was able to get back into the octagon in record time. Overcoming these hurdles only helped to strengthen her belief in herself and to strengthen her mindset.
Julianna recently gave birth to her daughter, Isabella Cruz Peña, and the time spent away from her to be back in the gym, training, is one of the toughest sacrifices she has had to make.
How Julianna deals with her “off days”-
She remembers to snap herself out of those mental funks with these three things:
People have their hand in too many baskets. They don't have one prime focus
She was in school, she was a full time waitress, and a fighter. Her coach asked her if she wanted to be the best waitress in the world or the best fighter. From that day she put all her energy into fighting. She bet on herself 100%.
It didn’t come overnight, she has been fighting for ten years. She has overcome many hurdles… Injury, having a baby, and more.
You are going to get there if you can focus all your energy on what your doing.
Doing it with all your heart, be joyful and grateful for it.
We only have a short amount of time in this world. Do what makes you happy.
2. You have to commit to the long term goal- she’s been fighting for ten years.
Dana White and the Fertitta Brothers invested Millions into the UFC without making a dime back on their money for YEARS but they believed in what they were doing. Ultimately they were able to sell the company for $4 BILLION dollars.
3. You have to believe in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself nobody else will.
Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But that's life. Some days are bad, some days are good. But if you do not believe in yourself and have that self love you will never be successful.
When asked what Peña tells herself when it's ‘Go Time’ and she is walking to the octagon she said that she tells herself that she is the fucking KING and she is a murderer. Outside of the octagon she is a nice person but inside it’s a complete mindset shift into a trained killer. The second the cage closes though her fear is gone and she is ready. She is laser focused.
Peña says they are modern day gladiators.
Her favorite quote is: